Mossawa: Gov't not repairing war damage in Arab villages

Advocacy group says state not fulfilling promise of funds for Israeli Arab villages in the North.

Katyusha Karmiel 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Katyusha Karmiel 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Mossawa Center, an Israeli Arab advocacy group fighting for equality between the Arab and Jewish sectors, charged on Wednesday that the government has not kept its promise regarding compensation for damages sustained by northern Arab towns and villages during the Second Lebanon War. According to Mossawa, the government promised to provide a total of NIS 968 million as part of a special rehabilitation program to Arab and Jewish communities in the North. Almost all the money was due to be included in the 2007 budget. However, the budget for the entire Arab sector, including the Beduin population in the South and towns and villages in the Arab Triangle which were not hit during the war, amounts to NIS 747m. Mossawa also complained that representatives of the Prime Minister's Office and the Finance Ministry did not show up at a meeting scheduled on Monday by the Knesset Finance Committee to discuss the implementation of the program in the Arab sector. In a statement issued earlier this week, Mossawa charged that "the money which the government decided to allocate to the Arab communities in the context of the rehabilitation program for the North is still stuck in the Treasury and has not yet been spent." The items included in the rehabilitation program are not always parallel to those of the 2007 budget, so that apart from the sum total promised by the government according to each version, it is not always easy to compare them item by item. However, the education allocation according to the rehabilitation program amounted to NIS 171.5 million, compared with NIS 137.9m. according to the budget. Even more grave, according to Mossawa, was the NIS 15m. allocation according to the budget for development of industrial infrastructure and job creation, compared with NIS 133m. according to the rehabilitation program. Mossawa spokeswoman Hanan Hadad told The Jerusalem Post that the organization's key demands included building bomb shelters and other means of protection for the Arab communities in the North, proper representation for Israeli Arabs in the civil service and investments in industrial development, including job opportunities for Arab women.